There’s a lot of information already about the fretboard; it’s easy to find and relatively easy to apply. But I just want to hit on a few things that I believe are important to accelerate your understanding of it.
1. Let’s assume that we’re talking six string guitar, tuned to standard tuning. From big string to little string, these are the notes:
E – Elephants
A – And
D – Donkeys
G – Grow
B – Big
E – Ears
This is the one instance where we think of the string order from big string (6th) to little string (1st). I’m not sure why, but the explanation uses the ‘ceiling to floor’ idea. This must be memorized, so that you can look at a string and immediately know the note. It also gives you the starting place for learning the notes up the fretboard.
2. When you look at the fretboard, you see dots (on most guitars) on every other fret or so. They also show up on the edge so you can see them when you’re standing up. The way to think of this is all dots are on ‘odd’ numbered frets except for the ‘double dot’ fret which fret 12. Memorize this. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Knowing about note intervals from the Musical Alphabet, you can now help your understanding of the fretboard by memorizing the notes on the 5th and 6th strings all the way up the fretboard. I generally suggest memorizing the notes on the ‘dotted’ frets. Then these can serve as ‘anchors’ for the adjacent notes. This is also important, because a few chord shapes are defined from the fret positions on the 5th and 6th strings. If you can memorize the notes on strings 4 and 3, even better. And you’ll advance to the scholar category if you can cypher the notes on strings 2 and 1 as well.
4. Learn to tune your guitar right away. Every guitar needs to be tuned regularly. I have a few expensive guitars; they must be tuned every day. Get a tuner, they’re cheap. Tune your guitar. I mean it. Don’t make me come over there.
I may post something later about how often to change strings, what to buy, etc.
Until next time, you might be learning to play guitar, but you just might learn to teach and play guitar.